Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Anatomy of a performance

Crazy plans, usually, are made in the most calm moments. 

It was on a nice, pre-summer evening, somewhere in early April. It is that time of the year when the weather in Karachi is not monstrous and one can enjoy a smoke and chit chat in the great outdoors (read: terrace) with friends. While conversation flowed between hubby dear, Z and myself, one of us (I forget who) asked rather innocently if we could put up a new narrative performance this year?

The other two nodded nonchalantly at first but with each passing minute the desire to create something overcame all rational thoughts and a performance started materializing. Books were taken off the shelf, dim lights were replaced by reading lamps and the music was turned low. Discussions followed over the merits and demerits of various pieces. Plans were made and the night ended on a high note. 

Days turned into weeks and months and finally the seed that was planted in April took on a serious form in July and by early August the narrative performance was all set to happen. Dates were locked, essays selected and all was well with the world.

Or so it seemed. 

The first task is to choose the right actor for a piece. Matching the actors with the essays sounds like a pretty dangerous task and it is. In our case, thankfully, it isn't. Both our actors usually want the 'other' one to have the better piece. Unbelievable, right? It is such a relief that we usually perform with two actors only otherwise this 'Lucknavi style' of you, no you would just go on forever. 

Rehearsals are not fun when you have the job of deciding the venue, time, arrangements, menu (actors require nourishment), and then also take into account unforeseen events like strike by oil tankers = petrol pumps closed = no petrol = actors can't reach rehearsal. And then also keep your cool! Who said life was fair?

While the rehearsals are going on the rest of the team has to ensure everything else is in place and it doesn't help if it's only a one man team. So while rehearsals happened, it was my job to promote the event and ensure people turn up. There is no surety that people will come and it certainly doesn't help when every night hubby dear wonders out loud if anyone will even come to see the performance. If there is one surety it is the onslaught of nightmares which will continue till the performance. 

The day of the performance is madness, to say the least. Getting everything in order is no easy task. Costumes, props, lights, music etc. Of course one person in the group usually ends up taking most of the stress and that, in our case, is yours truly. 

Post performance is a time for both celebration and a bit of performance appraisal. The former usually happens on the final day and mostly it is more of a collective sigh of relief than anything else. At least until the next time one can bask in the glory of a successful performance (and not check Facebook to see how many likes have come on the pictures/videos every two hours!).

[That one question which started the entire exercise culminated into two nights of great performances by our theatre group, Qissah Farosh. For details, pics and video, click here].